Monday, October 24, 2005

A Brief Aside on the Prospect of Dying

The time I spent in the dock, facing the very real possibility of execution (and all the distinct and signature appurtenances that the EIDF hardliners have by custom affixed thereto), gave me some time to pause and reflect on things a little. Specifically, it got me thinking about dying.

Since I had my Moment back at that wedding reception, I've been full-speed ahead. Pell-mell, gangway, geronimo, damn-the-torpedoes, we-don't-need-no-steenkin'-badges full-speed ahead. Sure, I understood that the world domination business was risky — I did, after all, install the word's ". . . or Dies Trying" into this website's frontispiece. But I always pressed ahead without any real thought for the consequences. And when I talked of Death, I did so playfully. Carelessly. He couldn't come for me. I was in my prime of life.

But now that I've spent three days staring eye-to-eyehole with that Son of a Bitch — only to have him finally stalk off defeated, for the time being — well, I'd be a damned fool if I didn't pause for a moment and take advantage of the opportunity for introspection.

What? Another Moment, Phutatorius?

Ah, far from it, B/S. As you know, every time I click Blogger's "Publish Post" button, I put my credibility as a writer and auto-historian on the line. I've built up that credibility over time — post by painstaking post — and I won't risk it by daring to suggest I am so privileged as to have been visited by two Moments within a single month's time. At most, I think it appropriate to call this exactly what I have called it above (though I take the liberty of capitalizing it): it was an Opportunity for Introspection. Or, if you like, an Occasion for Self-Reflection. Or a Time to Slow Down for a Damn Minute and Think About Stuff Like a Rational Person. The choice is yours.

I wish I could say that, as a result of that introspection, I came to some brilliant philosophical conclusion about dying, but I didn't. I certainly didn't come to terms with the prospect of departing this mortal coil. If anything, I learned that the "brilliant philosophical conclusion," the "coming to terms" — these are just other ways to describe dying. This in turn defines by exclusion living, which is all the process that brings you finally to that point of making conclusions. That process is the part that, to me, seems the most important and most enjoyable, which explains in part why I'm still alive.

I could sit here and tell you everything that ran through my mind when the Councilor-Prosecutors went through their ritual Detailing of the Punishment Sought, while they described the Ceremonial Eye Removal Spoons with their serrated tips (a feature that, so I'm told, predated by three hundred years the appearance of grapefruit spoons in Western cultures), the protocol for preparing the Hallucinogenic Elixir that sets off the Ceremonial Falcons in a frenzy of maneating. I could tell you that I wondered what, if anything, would come afterward. I could tell all my regrets — that I would be so soon forgotten, that all memory of me would be so quickly reabsorbed into this great soup of Information. I could tell you that, of the catalog of Things I Wished I Had Done While Alive, the one that cut me the most deeply, and I don't know why, was that I had never written or recorded a song. A song: just a two- or three-minute burst of melody and wit and earnest, the briefest of intrusions into the life of the listener, but with the ability to penetrate into his/her head and nest there indefinitely — for years, even — until that moment in which the listener finally pauses, truly listens, and gives the long-gone composer his due:

Yes, yes. I like that. It speaks to me. How did he know I would understand?

I could tell you about these and other notions that the passing of days (and the lapse of the exigency that brought them on) now imprint with a certain amount of Silliness that I did not feel at the time. But I wonder what would be the use. Let it suffice to say that I believe every second of this Process — this life — changes you irrevocably. And when you live for any amount of time in close quarters with the Grim Reaper, that Process is intense, and the changes much more pronounced.

Brother/Sister, see if you notice a marked difference in me henceforward.

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